Senate to launch inquiry into ‘alarming’ HIV cases among youth

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 16) — Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian on Wednesday said he intends to pursue an inquiry into the rise of HIV infections among the youth following the Department of Health’s (DOH) report on 86 HIV cases among children and adolescents recorded in January.

According to the report, 79 of the 86 cases were 10 to 19 years old while seven were kids below 10 years old. The tally is out of a total of 1,454 HIV-positive individuals confirmed in January.

Gatchalian, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, urged the DOH and the Department of Education to step up efforts on raising the youth's HIV awareness.

"Ang nakababahalang balitang ito ay kinakailangan ng mas maigting na pakikipag-ugnayan ng DOH sa iba't ibang ahensya ng gobyerno at mga lokal na pamahalaan para ikalat nang husto ang kaalaman tungkol sa sakit at kung paano maiwasan ito," he said.

[Translation: This alarming news needs better coordination between the DOH and other government agencies and local government units to heighten awareness about the disease and its prevention.]

Gatchalian also cited the findings of the University of the Philippines Population Institute's 2021 Young Adult and Fertility Sexuality Survey that revealed that youth awareness of HIV and AIDS dropped to 78% in 2021. This is the lowest recorded since 1994, when the percentage of youth who were aware of HIV and AIDS was 95%. In 2013, the percentage of youth who were aware of HIV and AIDS dropped to 85%.